Race #249 – Come See Me Half Marathon – Rock Hill, SC – 04/05/14

Pros:

  • One of South Carolina’s oldest races (37 years), but first year as a half marathon.
  • Small race (134 finishers in half marathon and 245 finishers in the 5k) was a nice departure from the huge races I’ve been running lately.
  • Fewer runners allow more people to place in their age groups. Not a surprise, but it’s nice when you can take home an age group award in a half marathon.
  • Nice finish on the South Pointe High School track.
  • Timing handled by Queen City Timing, who always does a great job and posts quick results.

Cons:

  • Got chased by a dog in the middle of the race while running out in the country! Not the fault of the race directors, of course, but next time I’ll be carrying pepper spray.

Additional Notes:

  • I didn’t register for the race until I got there, and just as I was getting ready to register I was approached by running friend Henry McMaster, who kindly offered to transfer his bib to me because he wasn’t able to run. Race day registration was $65 (actually pretty cheap for a half marathon) but it sure was nice to get in free, especially since I haven’t worked in a year and a half! A big thanks to Henry, who wouldn’t even let me pay him half price for it and say to just pay it forward! I will!
  • I hardly ever overdress (for me) but I did for this one. Usually with temperatures in the 50s I’m comfortable wearing Under Armour Cold Gear, but with the sun beating down on me at 6 miles I left my warm shirt at the water stop, hoping to get it back at the end of the race. I was elated to get it back after the race when somebody sent it to the finish line.
  • Heart rate average down to a more normal 165 in this race.
  • Had a great time at the after-race breakfast at Anna J’s Restaurant in Rock Hill with some of our running friends.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Free Photos on Come See Me Facebook Page (68 photos mostly of 5k finish & 5k awards)

My wife Linda got 1st place in  the 60-64 age group in the 5k!

My Stats:

Time:  1:39:02
Pace:  7:33
Age Group: 1 of  2
Overall:  11 of  134
Average Heart Rate: 165
Maximum Heart Race:  176
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:18:37  (75.32%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
0 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
6 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE
0 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
x – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

TOTAL:  88

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Race #161 – Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run 5k – Rock Hill, SC – 01/28/12

After two straight weeks of no races, it was a pleasure to wake up early on this Saturday morning and head to a race. January is probably the month with the fewest races so there aren’t a lot to choose from but this is a good small-town race close to home. The Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run has been held now for 32 consecutive years, which I’m guessing would make it one of the oldest races in the state of South Carolina. It’s well organized and things seem to run smoothly, but it’s a little old-school, and to me one of the drawbacks is that there is very little online information about the race. There’s no website but if you look hard enough you get enough information to find your way there. As I write this at 9 p.m. the night of the race I still can’t find the official results, but I’ve got a busy day scheduled tomorrow so I’ll add results later on when they show up. [Note: After I posted this Stan Austin sent me a link to the results, which were up on the Active.com site.]

Much of the race takes place around the grounds of Winthrop University, and after looping around what I believe was Winthrop Coliseum you go back the same route, so the big hill that was such a pleasure to run down near the beginning came back to haunt me the last quarter mile or so of the race. I’ve gained a few pounds over the winter that I haven’t been able to lose yet so I’m not running quite as well as back in the fall, and as I climbed that final hill about 2.9 miles into the race I looked back and there was nobody close enough to catch me so I took a short walk break of about 10-15 seconds, which is something I haven’t done in a long time in a 5k. I’m not sure how much it affected my time but I finished 1st in the 55-59 age group and 15th overall in the race with a time of 21:09 so it wasn’t terrible but I’m hoping I can get back under 21 minutes this year.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  21:09
Pace:  6:49
Age Group:  1 of  11
Overall:  15 of  114

**************************************
* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *
**************************************

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there’s not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it’s important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way I’ll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
0 – Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
0 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION  (6 possible points)
3 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!  (Just 15 bucks on race day w/no shirt!)
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
0 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
2 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
1 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
1 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
1 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
5 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
0 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
0 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
2 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

PARKING  (8 possible points)
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
0 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
0 – No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:   50

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Race #82 – Come See Me Festival 5k – Rock Hill, SC – 04/17/10

Gone fishing? To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fisherman. To be a little more precise, I’ve never owned a fishing pole and I’ve never caught a fish, so when I announced after this past Saturday’s race that I’ve “Gone Fishing” and wouldn’t be doing any more commentaries on the races I’ve run, I should have known it wouldn’t last. I’m sure most of the readers of this blog would rise up with a resounding “Who cares?”, and rightly so. One less blog to keep up with would simplify life for most people, including me. But it’s my blog, and the compulsive side of me just won’t let well enough alone, so when I looked at that big empty spot where I should have been running my mouth, I knew the only proper thing would be to cut the fishing trip short and fill in the blanks, lest I actually caught a fish and wouldn’t know what to do with it.

I mentioned in my swan song that I had already covered just about everything imaginable in the first twenty races I ran. Here I am at race #82 and, no doubt, I’ve started repeating myself. Then again, maybe somebody’s just getting here and hasn’t heard it all before or they want to know what happened in this particular race.

Whether it’s a 5k or a marathon or anything in between, each race is somewhat of a different experience in its own way. Yes, there are certain common elements:

“If I had moved my feet faster I would have finished sooner.”
“There was this guy about 20 feet ahead who I couldn’t quite catch up with.”
“I’d slow down going uphill, but then I would speed up going downhill.”
“I ate a banana after the race.”
“I’m bummed that the age group awards were _________________ instead of trophies. (Fill in the blank — it’s different but disappointing in almost every race.)

Early in the week Bill Weimer had asked on Facebook if anybody was running the Come-See-Me 5k in Rock Hill, and I hadn’t heard about it. There were several races around and I hadn’t really decided on anything in particular. Dianne Allen, who knows the local races just about better than anybody, said it’s a race that she really enjoys so we decided to head out for Rock Hill on Saturday morning. Turns out it was a good decision. It was an enjoyable race with about 400 runners, good food afterwards, and I got first place in my age group (always a plus).

Just before the race Dianne introduced us to a friend of hers named Ed who works with her in Charlotte. After we talked to him a few minutes he mentioned he lived in Gastonia, which is where Linda and I live, of course, so I was excited to meet another runner from Gastonia (it’s not exactly a hotbed of running activity). Ed told us where he lived and we mentioned that we used to live in that same general area in a house that was demolished several years ago. Linda and I had lived there for the first three years of our marriage (1980-83) and our son David was born while we lived there. It was a place of special memories for us and one of only three houses we’ve lived in since we were married 31 years ago. We came to find out that after we moved out of the house, Ed and his family moved into that same house! Wow… talk about a small world! We then figured out that we both do a lot of our runs each week at Martha Rivers Park in Gastonia, and we’re planning on meeting up there and running together soon. Ed emailed me the next day and said that when he got home he told his wife about meeting us, and she actually remembered meeting us at the church both of our families attended at the same time back in 1985 — 25 years ago! Weird-O-Rama!

Anyhoo, I guess I really should talk a little bit about the race. It was pretty flat and pretty fast, as advertised, and scenic as well. Another of our Charlotte running friends who showed up was Steve Staley, President of the Charlotte Road Runners Club, veteran of over 1000 races, and lately my main competition since he just turned 55 a few months ago and entered the 55-59 age group. Last year at China Grove Steve beat me at the finish line while pushing a stroller, so he’s definitely a fast guy. Since he’s turned 55 I think he’s beat me a couple times and I’ve beat him a couple times, but it always makes it a little more interesting to have somebody pretty close to you in a race who you know is in the same age group. Makes things a little more exciting! The one Steve and I really have to look out for is Steve’s 10-year-old son, Drew, who of course isn’t in our age group but at 10 years old is just about to pass us both up, consistently running sub-22-minute 5k’s. He’s definitely somebody to keep an eye out for, no matter what your age group. It won’t be long — probably a year or two at the ripe old age of 11 or 12 (or maybe 13) — that Drew will be way ahead of us and challenging the overall fastest runners.


Race Rating:
4 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
4 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
4 – 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
4 – 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other
TOTAL – 83
My Stats:
Time:  21:04
Pace:  6:48
Age Group:  1 of 12
Overall:  23 of 355 (6.5%)
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Race #72 – Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run 5k – Rock Hill, SC – 02/06/10

After all of the miserable winter weather we’ve been having it was great to get in a race this week. With all of the ice and snow north of Charlotte, it was nice that this one was south of the border in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The forecast was a little iffy and it was cloudy and kind of misty but the 38-degree temperature almost felt pleasant after the bone-chilling days we’ve been having lately.
This is a small race but a good one. It begins at Dinkins Student Center on the campus of Winthrop University and winds its way mostly through some scenic outlying areas of the campus. It’s fairly flat other than a pretty decent hill in the last mile, but the hill peaks just about at the 3-mile mark, allowing for a nice fast finish over the last 1/10 of a mile if you have a little gas left.
The T-shirts are pretty plain and the trophies are coffee mugs, so nothing exciting there, but this year’s food was really good — homemade brownies, a variety of cookies, sandwiches (pimiento cheese and egg salad), bagels, soft drinks, water, and maybe some other things I missed. Once again I blew my diet but I’ll try to make up for it with a long run tomorrow.
For me personally, it was a great race. It wasn’t a PR — I actually ran a minute faster at the Santa Scramble a few months ago — but it was the first time I felt comfortable all the way through a race. I finished in 20:52 (6:44 pace), which was 1st in my age group and 12th overall in the race. I hope it’s not a placebo effect or some other delusion, and only time will tell if that’s the case, but the heart rate monitoring that I began recently seems to be paying off. I’ve only been doing heart rate training a few weeks so I’m still feeling my way around and experimenting with what works for me (since we’re all different). My Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is 176 according to the formula that works for most people. At least that’s the number I work with and it does seem to be right for me. I’ve found that I have a “cruising speed” that I reach at about 166 beats per minute. That’s about 94-95% of my MHR and that’s where I tried to keep it today. If I get much higher than that, say in the 169-170 range, I become exhausted quickly and have to slow down or walk, and that’s most likely what was happening when I used to take all of the walk breaks in races and wasn’t monitoring my heart rate. So now, instead of walking I just monitor my heart rate and if it starts going too high I slow down a little until I’m back to my normal comfortable speed. Alternatively, if I look at my monitor and I’ve dropped down to less than 165 I know I can give it a little boost and still be in a comfortable range. Supposedly, over time your heart becomes more efficient with this training and you run faster eventually with that same heart rate.  I’ll have to wait and see how it works out over time, of course, but it feels right for me at this point.
Race Rating
2 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
2 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
3 – 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
4 – 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other
TOTAL – 78
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Race #17 – Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run – 01/31/09 (Rock Hill SC)

It was a battle of monumental proportions; at least that’s how it seemed as I tried to pry Linda out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning in the frigid 22-degree weather. My apologies to the Northerners who are laughing at us for thinking that’s cold, but in the Carolinas it’s pretty chilly. I’m a life-long cold weather hater but after missing a couple of races this winter because of it being too cold I decided that’s not happening again if I can help it.
The 29th annual Alyce T. Guettler Hunger Run started at the Dinkins Student Center on the campus of Winthrop University and the student center provided a nice warm place for everybody to gather and meet with other runners as we waited. The awards ceremony afterwards was inside the student center as well, and it turns out the weather was really a non-issue. The sun was shining when the race started and the temperatures seemed to warm up nicely, although I was wearing so many clothes I wasn’t sure whether it was cold or hot.
The course was really nice — just a few rolling hills, nice neighborhoods, and much of the race on the picturesque university campus. I came in 2nd in my age group (55-59), less than 2 seconds after the 1st place finisher. One more biscuit for breakfast and I would have had it! I was relieved that I wasn’t part of the 60-and-older age group, where every older-than-thou silver streaker in the Carolinas showed up to show us young’uns how it’s done.
After the race, the food was simple but tasty (cookies, brownies, chips, pretzels) and there was plenty of it, although adding some fruit to the mix would have been nice.
The awards for the age group winners weren’t great: a mug (or coffee cup or whatever) that said “29th Annual 5k Hunger Run 2009 Award Winner.” I never quite know what to do with an award like that. Should I drink out of it, or put it on a trophy shelf (where it looks like somebody left a discarded cup of coffee), or what? I’ll take a cheap trophy or medal or even a simple ribbon anytime over that, but I guess it’s something and I was happy that I placed.

Race Rating:
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
2 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 – 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
4 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
7 – 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
5 – 1-10 Other (5 extra points for use of the student center on a frigid day!)
TOTAL – 79
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